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UConn WBB Weekly: The Huskies’ history with walk-ons

Plus, UConn starting to make some headway in the class of 2022.

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Photos-WBB: UConn Huskies vs Mississippi State Bulldogs (2016 Sweet 16)

Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.

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From The UConn Blog and Storrs Central

Last week’s Weekly:

Elsewhere

In The News

Huskies offer two top 2022 prospects

UConn appears to be turning its attention to the 2022 recruiting class. This past week, the Huskies offered the two top remaining players in the class — Lauren Betts and Ayanna Patterson.

Betts, a 6-foot-7 post player from Colorado, is the No. 1 player in the class. UConn made her top nine along with Arizona State, Baylor, Louisville, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford and UCLA.

As for Patterson, ESPN rates her as the No. 3 player in the class. She’s a 6-foot-3 wing with over 50 offers including Baylor, Notre Dame, Maryland, Mississippi State and Tennessee. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Patterson has reportedly dunked in practice.

Speaking of the class of 2022, ESPN updated its Top 100 rankings. UConn’s sole 2022 commit, Isuneh Brady, rose one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 in the class.

Leftovers from Chassion story

One more interesting nugget that didn’t make it into my feature on UConn’s new walk-on Autumn Chassion: On the AAU circuit, Chassion faced Mir McLean and possibly Paige Bueckers as well — though Chassion’s father (and AAU coach) wasn’t certain of the latter. However, he does remember going up against McLean.

“Mir’s team beat the stuffing out of us,” Tehmi Chassion said. “Not the stuffing but they ended up winning by 20 points. We were down two starters and we’re playing our hardest in New Orleans and Mir’s team is slowly pulling away. Mir’s in the air for a rebound literally for 5-6 seconds. She’s floating. The girl gets up and she’s grabbing the ball at the rim and she’s floating in the air.”


Walk-on history

On Saturday, UConn added a new player to its roster: Autumn Chassion, a walk-on from Lafayette, Louisiana. Though the path Chassion took to Storrs is certainly unique, she’s far from the first walk-on to suit up for the Huskies.

Kathy Kraus (1992-93)

Prior to the start of the 1992-93 season, UConn had just seven healthy scholarship players. In dire need of numbers, the Huskies hosted two tryouts — Kathy Kraus and Jennifer Krause — with Kathy making the team. She played in eight games for UConn that season.

Colleen Healy (1991-94)

After initially beginning her career at the University of New Haven, Colleen Healy realized her dream was to play Division I basketball. So midway through her freshman year, she left the team and the school. When she started to drive home to Willimantic in a blizzard, her car broke down and some students from UConn picked her up. She enrolled at Eastern Connecticut State the next semester but wanted to play for Auriemma at UConn. Since NCAA rules forced players to sit out if they transferred from Division II to Division I, Auriemma offered her a position as manager for her first year. She finally got the opportunity to try out the next season and made the team. The highlight of Healy’s career came during her junior year. On the road against Georgetown, all the Huskies’ ballhandlers fouled out, which forced Auriemma to put Healy in the game. She responded by scoring the last four points of the game as UConn won.

Jill Gelfenbien (1994-95)

After helping the UConn women’s soccer team to the Final Four, where she was named to the All-Tournament Team as a goalkeeper, Jill Gelfenbien tried out and made the Huskies’ women’s basketball team. She played in 28 games as a walk-on and became one of the rare athletes to make the Final Four in two different sports in one year as UConn captured the national championship. Another fun fact: The dining hall at Towers Residence Halls — Gelfenbien Commons — is named after her father.

Marci Czel (1997-2001)

As a freshman out of Guilford, Marci Czel showed up at the women’s basketball offices at UConn one day looking to play and eventually earned her way onto the team during the preseason. However, she nearly lost her spot after her freshman season and once again needed to prove herself to stay with the program. But Czel just refused to go away and over the span of her four years, she saw action in 97 games and won a national title in 2000.

Stacey Marron (2001-05)

When Stacey Marron made the cross-country move from New Mexico to Storrs for the chance to try out for UConn, she wasn’t alone. Since Stacey was the last sibling in her family living at home, Marron’s mother decided to uproot and move to Manchester, where the two lived together throughout her entire collegiate career. Marron won three rings and eventually earned a scholarship with the Huskies.

Jacquie Fernandes (2006-2010)

Fernandes came to UConn as a preferred walk-on out of Stonington, Connecticut but received a scholarship from Auriemma before her freshman year even began. Though she never saw a significant amount of playing time, Fernandes was still part of two national championship squads as well as the Huskies’ then-record 90-game win streak.

Briana Pulido (2013-2016)

Not long after UConn claimed the 2013 national title, Breanna Stewart tweeted that the Huskies were looking for walk-on candidates. At the time, Briana Pulido was a student-athlete at UConn as a track athlete on a partial scholarship. She decided to give it a shot and was one of two people to show up to the tryout. As if playing on the team wasn’t hard enough, Pulido also wanted to become a doctor, which meant she had to miss a few road trips to focus on schoolwork. Prior to her senior year, Auriemma awarded Pulido a scholarship. She capped her career by hitting a three-pointer in the final moments of the national championship game and finished her time at UConn with just a single loss.

Tierney Lawlor (2013-17)

When Tierney Lawlor enrolled at UConn, she didn’t do so with sports in mind. Though her father had played football for the Huskies and her mother was a cheerleader, Lawlor wasn’t planning to continue to play after her high school days were over. But, like Pulido, Stewart’s tweet changed her mind. Lawlor was the second player to show up to the tryout along with Pulido, made the team and also earned a scholarship prior to the 2015-16 season. A sustainable farm and ranch management major, Lawlor is now an apprentice at the Wolfe’s Neck Center, where she’s learning to be a dairy farmer. Eventually, she wants to own her own farm.


Best of social media

Renee Montgomery reminisces on her time at UConn:

Pretty good start to the season for Bria Hartley:

Get ready for an updated version of this stat in November: